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Old Wednesday 11th May 2011, 19:19   #14
Mark Harper
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Whitburn, UK
Posts: 812
3rd May

Before breakfast we checked out a territory of Grey-throated Leaftosser along the entrance road, it was supposed to be nesting in the bank alongside the road and could sometimes be seen on the road, but there was no sign of it. A great consolation prize was a Black-faced Antthrush that walked within 2 metres of me as I waited for the Leaftosser.

We had a day trip booked to explore the Blanchisseuse Road and David Ramlal was to be our guide for the day. We had a list of around half a dozen species to target, excluding Trinidad Piping-Guan and Scaled Antpitta, which David soon told us we had next to no chance of along the Blanchisseuse Road. The Piping-Guan only really being possible when a particular tree is fruiting and it being over a year since he had last heard a Scaled Antpitta there.

Having specific species to target meant that we were after quality and not quantity and another group of birders from Texas recorded two more species along the road than us that day, but only saw two of our target species.

First stop was to look for White-bellied Antbird, no response at the first spot, but a Green Hermit buzzed us and a Golden-crowned Warbler sang nearby. We then headed for Las Lapas Ridge, walking the dirt road we soon found our first target Golden-fronted Greenlet, we had previously heard these at Asa Wright, but had only glimpsed movement, this time we had excellent views.

Further along the road David pointed out several Grey-throated Leaftosser nest holes, the third of these had a Leaftosser looking out. David warned us not to get too close as they exit rather rapidly and he knew someone that had suffered an eye injury as a result. As we watched the bird shot out and disappeared into the forest.

Slaty-capped and Dusky-capped Flycatchers were both added before we turned around and walked back. As we approached the Leaftosser nest hole it again shot out, but this time we were able to locate it in the forest and I was able to get one decent photo, before it dropped out of sight.

Before getting back to the vehicle David heard another of our targets Speckled Tanager and a bit of pishing was rewarded with a couple of birds in with a group of Bay-headed Tanagers, whilst a pair of Swallow Tanagers sat nearby. A Sooty Grassquit was also singing nearby so we added him to the list before continuing on our way.

At David's next site for White-bellied Antbird we found the forementioned group of Texans trying to tape in a Guianan Trogon, which was singing and in full view next to where we parked, so we called them over to see it. Whilst watching this and a Steaked Xenops David started to play for the Antbird and it soon responded, fortunately the Texans moved on at this point as it would have been difficult to get 15 people onto the bird. We were soon enjoying good views of a pair of Antbirds, as they moved across the slope above us.

Walking along the road a brief view of the next target, a Stripe-breasted Spinetail, was most unsatisfactory as it disappeared as soon as it was found. Fortunately I only had to wait 15 minutes before one showed perfectly.

It was now time for lunch and we stopped along a road side where there was a small table in a thatched shelter. It is not very often on birding trips that the picnic lunch provided involves proper plates, cuttlery and even a table cloth, not to mention chicken pilaf and salad. As we ate lunch the Magnificent Frigatebirds were joined in the air by a Plumbeous Kite and a Short-tailed Hawk.

We only had one real target left Trinidad Euphonia and it proved to be a real pain, we could hear one calling from where we ate lunch, but after an hour or so, all we had seen was a brief perched view and a couple of flyovers. Even trying Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl called did not work, although it did help add the only Owl to the trip list, plus Plain Antvireo and Long-billed Gnatwren.

Eventually we conceded defeat and started the journey back up the hill towards Asa Wright Centre. A stop at a spot for Rufous-tailed Jacamar was successful and a little higher up David stopped by a tree covered in mistletoe, this being the favourite food of Trinidad Euphonia. A little pishing and we were soon enjoying a male Trinidad Euphonia alongside a couple of Violaceous Euphonias. We could now return to the centre with all our targets birds in the bag.

One bird that I had not seen mentioned in many trip reports before I went was Short-tailed Nighthawk, but David said it was fairly reliable just before dusk from the veranda or the carpark at the centre. So rather than sitting around chatting with our rum punch we sat watching the skies and sure enough at 6.30pm one flew right past the veranda, the following day it did exactly the same at 6.27pm, with only us to enjoy it.
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